Home > Public Distortion > Misinformation about Richard Gardner: Clearing up Extremist Groups One by One

Misinformation about Richard Gardner: Clearing up Extremist Groups One by One

January 3, 2010

Misinformation Versus Facts About

the Contributions of Richard A. Gardner, M.D.




All truth passes through three stages:

First, it is ridiculed.

Secondly, it is violently opposed.

Thirdly, it is accepted as self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)

 This document has been prepared to provide corrections for certain

misrepresentations and misperceptions of some of my contributions.

Some of these originated from conflicts in the legal arena,

where attorneys frequently select out-of-context material in order

to enhance their positions in courts of law. This is the nature of the

adversary system, and it is one of the causes of the controversy that

sometimes surround my contributions. Some of these misperceptions

and misrepresentations have become so widespread that I considered

it judicious to formulate this statement.


For many years I have seen myself misrepresented, my work distorted, and

various fabrications and even delusions about me have been promulgated. I

have even seen slanderous and libelous statements made about me, which I

was certain were consciously and deliberately promulgated. My position has

usually been that my best response to these distortions and misrepresentations

of my work would be to move on, continue to contribute, and to

continue to create. However, it became increasingly apparent that some responses

were required, especially in courts of law. In addition, the Internet

has been used to perpetrate many of these distortions, with the result that

they became even more widespread. More recently, I have referred to this

material as “recycled garbage,” garbage that not only appears on the Internet,

but occasionally even in professional journals. My own staff, friends, and

 colleagues have urged me to publicly respond to these misperceptions and

fabrications: thus this document.


Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Work on the PAS Is “Controversial”

Fact: The implication here is that because controversy exists there is something

specious about my contributions. Many newly developed scientific

principles become “controversial” when they are dealt with in the courtroom.

It behooves the attorneys to take an opposite stand and create controversy

where it does not exist. This is inevitable in the context of adversarial

proceedings. A good example of this phenomenon is the way in which DNA

testing was dealt with in the OJ Simpson trial. DNA testing is one of the most

scientifically valid procedures. Yet the jury saw fit to question the validity of

such evidence, and DNA became, for that trial, controversial. I strongly suspect

that those jury members who concluded that DNA evidence was not

scientifically valid for OJ Simpson would have vehemently fought for its

admissibility if they were being tried for a crime which they did not indeed

commit. Those who discount my contributions because some are allegedly

“controversial” sidestep the real issue, namely, what specifically has engendered

the controversy, and, more importantly, is what I have said reasonable

and valid? The fact that something is controversial does not invalidate it.

But why this controversy in the first place? With regard to whether PAS

exists, we generally do not see such controversy regarding most other clinical

entities in psychiatry. Examiners may have different opinions regarding

the etiology and treatment of a particular psychiatric disorder, but there is

usually some consensus about its existence. And this should especially be

the case for a relatively “pure” disorder such as the PAS, a disorder that is

easily diagnosable because of the similarity of the children’s symptoms when

one compares one family with another. Over the years, I have received many

letters from people who have essentially said: “Your PAS book is uncanny.

You don’t know me, and yet I felt that I was reading my own family’s biography.

You wrote your book before all this trouble started in my family. It’s

almost like you predicted what would happen.” Why, then, should there be

such controversy over whether or not PAS exists?

One explanation lies in the situation in which the PAS emerges and in

which the diagnosis is made: vicious child-custody litigation. Once an issue

is brought into a court of law—in the context of adversarial proceedings—it

behooves one side to take just the opposite position from the other if one is

to prevail in that forum. A parent accused of inducing a PAS in a child is

likely to engage the services of a lawyer who may invoke the argument that

there is no such thing as a PAS. And if this lawyer can demonstrate that the

PAS is not listed in DSM-IV, then the position is considered “proven.” The

only thing this proves is that DSM-IV has not yet listed the PAS. The lawyers

hope, however, that the judge will be simple-minded enough to be taken in

by this specious argument and will then conclude that if there is no PAS,

there is no programming, and so the client is thereby exonerated.

Another factor operative in the controversy relates to the false sex-abuse

accusation that is commonly a spin-off of the PAS. It is such a common

problem that there are many who equate PAS with false sex-abuse accusations.

Those who deny the existence of false sex-abuse accusations at the

same time frequently deny the existence of the PAS. Therefore, people who

claim that the PAS exists may find themselves criticized as individuals who

do not believe in the existence of true sex abuse. Elsewhere, I have discussed

the controversy in greater detail (Gardner, 2002a).

Misinformation: The PAS Is Not a Syndrome

Fact: There are some who claim that the PAS is not really a syndrome. This

criticism is especially seen in courts of law in the context of child-custody

disputes. It is an argument sometimes promulgated by those who claim that

PAS does not even exist. The PAS is a very specific disorder. A syndrome, by

medical definition, is a cluster of symptoms, occurring together, that characterize

a specific disease. The symptoms, although seemingly disparate, warrant

being grouped together because of a common etiology or basic underlying

cause. Furthermore, there is a consistency with regard to such a cluster

in that most (if not all) of the symptoms appear together.

Accordingly, there is a kind of purity that a syndrome has that may not

be seen in other diseases. For example, a person suffering with pneumococcal

pneumonia may have chest pain, cough, purulent sputum, and fever.

However, the individual may still have the disease without all these symptoms

manifesting themselves. The syndrome is more often “pure” because

most (if not all) of the symptoms in the cluster predictably manifest themselves.

An example would be Down’s Syndrome, which includes a host of

seemingly disparate symptoms that do not appear to have a common link.

These include mental retardation, Mongoloid-type facial expression, drooping

lips, slanting eyes, short fifth finger, and atypical creases in the palms of

the hands. There is a consistency here in that the people who suffer with

Down’s Syndrome often look very much alike and most typically exhibit all

these symptoms. The common etiology of these disparate symptoms relates

to a specific chromosomal abnormality. It is this genetic factor that is responsible

for linking together these seemingly disparate symptoms. There is then

a primary, basic cause of Down’s Syndrome: a genetic abnormality.

Similarly, the PAS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that usually

appear together in the child, especially in the moderate and severe types

(Gardner, 1998). These include:

1. A campaign of denigration

2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation

3. Lack of ambivalence

4. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon

5. Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict

6. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent

7. The presence of borrowed scenarios

8. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the

alienated parent

Typically, children who suffer with PAS will exhibit most (if not all) of

these symptoms. This is almost uniformly the case for the moderate and

severe types. However, in the mild cases one might not see all eight symptoms.

When mild cases progress to moderate or severe, it is highly likely that

most (if not all) of the symptoms will be present. This consistency results in

PAS children resembling one another. It is because of these considerations

that the PAS is a relatively “pure” diagnosis that can easily be made. Because

of this purity the PAS lends itself well to research studies because the population

to be studied can easily be identified. Furthermore, I believe that this

purity will be verified by interrater reliability studies. As is true of other

syndromes, there is an underlying cause: programming by an alienating parent

in conjunction with additional contributions by the programmed child. It

is for these reasons that PAS is indeed a syndrome, and it is a syndrome by

the best medical definition of the term.

Misinformation: PAS Does Not Exist Because It’s Not in DSM-IV

Fact: There are some, especially adversaries in child-custody disputes, who

claim that there is no such entity as the PAS, that it is only a theory, or that it

is “Gardner’s theory.” Some claim that I invented the PAS, with the implication

that it is merely a figment of my imagination. The main argument given

to justify this position is that it does not appear in DSM-IV. The DSM committees

justifiably are quite conservative with regard to the inclusion of newly

described clinical phenomena and require many years of research and publications

before considering inclusion of a disorder. This is as it should be.

The PAS exists! Any lawyer involved in child-custody disputes will attest to

that fact. Mental health and legal professionals involved in such disputes are

observing it. They may not wish to recognize it. They may refer to it by

another name (like “parental alienation”). But that does not preclude its

existence. A tree exists as a tree regardless of the reactions of those looking

at it. A tree still exists even though some might give it another name. If a

dictionary selectively decides to omit the word tree from its compilation of

words, that does not mean that the tree does not exist. It only means that the

people who wrote that book decided not to include that particular word.

Similarly, for someone to look at a tree and say that the tree does not exist

does not cause the tree to evaporate. It only indicates that the viewer, for

whatever reason, does not wish to see what is right in front of him (her).

To refer to the PAS as “a theory” or “Gardner’s theory” implies the nonexistence

of the disorder. It implies that I have dreamed it up and that it has

no basis in reality. To say that PAS does not exist because it is not listed in

DSM-IV is like saying in 1980 that Lyme Disease did not exist because it was

not then listed in standard diagnostic medical textbooks. The PAS is not a

theory, it is a fact. Those who consider the PAS to be a figment of my imagination

must be capable of completely ignoring the ever-growing number of

articles in peer-review journals on the PAS as well as rulings by judges in

courts of law in which the PAS has been recognized. These are being continually

updated and can be found elsewhere on my website

(www.rgardner.com/refs). Accordingly, if PAS is my fantasy then these critics

must also believe that a group-fantasy phenomenon is operative here with

an ever-growing number of legal and mental health professionals embracing

the delusion.

DSM-IV was published in 1994. From 1991 to 1993, when DSM committees

were meeting to consider the inclusion of additional disorders, there

were too few articles in the literature to warrant submission of the PAS for

consideration. That is no longer the case. It is my understanding that committees

will begin to meet for DSM-V in 2006. Considering the fact that there

are now more than 145 articles in peer-review journals on the PAS, it is

highly likely that by that time there will be even more articles. A listing of

these, which is continually updated, is to be found at ht tp://

http://www.rgardner.com/refs/pas_peerreviewarticles.html. Furthermore, considering

the fact that there are more than 70 rulings in which courts have recognized

the PAS, it is probable that there will be even more such rulings by the

time the committees meet. This list is also being continually updated and can

be found at: http://www.rgardner.com/refs/pas_legalcites.html

It is important to note that DSM-IV does not frivolously accept every

new proposal. Their requirements are quite stringent, and justifiably so. Gille

de la Tourette first described his syndrome in 1885. It was not until 1980, 95

years later, that the disorder found its way into the DSM. It is important to

note that at that point, “Tourette’s Syndrome” became Tourette’s Disorder.

Asperger first described his syndrome in 1957. It was not until 1994 (37 years

later) that it was accepted into DSM-IV and “Asperger’s Syndrome” became

Asperger’s Disorder.

DSM-IV states specifically that all disorders contained in the volume are

syndromes, and they would not be there if they were not syndromes. Once

accepted the name syndrome becomes changed to disorder. However, this is

not automatically the pattern for nonpsychiatric disorders. Often the term

syndrome becomes locked into the name and becomes so well known that

changing the word syndrome to disorder may seems awkward. For example,

Downs’ syndrome, although well recognized, has never become Downs’

disorder. Similarly, AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) is a well-recognized

disease but still retains the syndrome term.

Misinformation: Dr Gardner’s Publications on the PAS Have Never

Been Peer-Reviewed

Fact: At this time, 15 of my PAS publications have been published in peerreview

journals and 3 more are in press. The latter are scheduled for publication

in 2002 and 2003. These references can be found in the aforementioned

list of PAS references, which includes approximately 125 peer-review

publications by at least 150 other authors. As mentioned, this list is periodically

updated and can be found at: http://www.rgardner.com/refs/pas_peerreviewarticles.html.

Misinformation: Parental Alienation (PA) Does Exist, but Parental

Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Does Not

Fact: Both exist. There are many causes of parental alienation, for example,

physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

But there is another reason why children can become alienated from a parent,

namely, being programmed into a campaign of denigration by an alienating

parent. The disorder so produced, which I call parental alienation syndrome,

is also a form of parental alienation. In short, the PAS is one subtype

of parental alienation. To call PAS PA cannot but produce confusion. One of

the reasons why medicine advances is that we become ever more discriminating

about the various subtypes that exist for any particular disorder. One

of the reasons why Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine is that he

started to make such differentiations. Prior to his time people suffered with

“fits.” It was he who recognized that there were different kinds of fits, each

requiring a different form of treatment. One form of fits he referred to as

epilepsy. Another he referred to as hysteria. His group was astute enough to

recognize the differences between these different kinds of fits and provided

different kinds of treatment. Three hundred years ago people suffered with

heart disease. Now, we know that there are many different kinds of heart

disease, each requiring its own form of treatment. One would not want to go

to a doctor today who makes the diagnosis of fits and heart disease and not

go any further. We want specifics. Similarly, saying that a child has parental

alienation gives very little information. Anyone can observe that—the clients,

the mother, the father, both lawyers, the guardian ad litem, and the

judge. We want to define specifically the type of the alienation, and PAS is

just one possible type. We are then in a far better position to provide specific

treatment. Those who eschew the term PAS, for whatever reason, but embrace

the term PA, are equivalent to those who would diagnose fits and heart

disease. This does not represent progression, it represents regression.

There are many evaluators who fully recognize that PAS exists but will

still use PA in a court of law. They recognize that they have an easier time

with the PA than the PAS. No one is going to deny PA. Many people will

deny PAS. Accordingly, they may have an easier time getting their reports

admitted into court and there will be less argument against such admission.

Such evaluators are being short-sighted. Using the term PAS indicates a specific

programmer. In contrast, using PA clearly indicates that the children are

alienated and that either parent could have exhibited behavior that could

have resulted in the alienation. The term, then, removes the court’s focus

away from the alienator and redirects attention to what might be only minor

parental deficiencies exhibited by the alienated parent. Substituting PA for

PAS is, therefore, a disservice to the targeted parent. Furthermore, such evaluators

are losing sight of the fact that they are impeding the general acceptance

of the term in the courtroom, and possibly inclusion in some future

edition of DSM.

There is, however, a compromise. I use PAS in all those reports in

which I consider the diagnosis justified. I also use the PAS term throughout

my testimony. However, I may also make comments along these lines, both

in my reports and in my testimony:

“Although I have used the term PAS, the important questions for the

court are: Are these children alienated? What is the cause of the alienation?

and What can we then do about it?” So if one wants to just use the term PA

one has learned something. The question is what is the cause of the children’s

alienation? In this case the alienation is caused by the mother (father) and

something must be done about protecting the children from the programming.”

That is the central issue for the court and is less important than whether

one is going to call the disorder PA or PAS, even though I strongly prefer the

PAS term for the reasons given. Elsewhere, I have discussed in greater detail

the PA vs. PAS controversy (Gardner, 2002a).

Misinformation: The PAS Has Not Been Recognized in Courts of Law

 Fact: Again, no mention is made regarding which courts of law. Although

there are certainly judges who have not yet recognized the PAS (I have no

hesitation using the word “yet”) there is no question that courts with increasing

rapidity are recognizing the disorder. The aforementioned website list of

PAS legal citations (http://www.rgardner.com/refs/pas_legalcites.html) currently

lists 70 courts of law that have recognized the PAS. Furthermore, I am

certain that there are other such cases that have not been brought to my


It is important to note that on November 22, 2000, after a two-day hearing

devoted to whether the PAS satisfied Frye Test criteria for admissibility in

a court of law, a Tampa, Florida court ruled that the PAS had gained enough

R. A. Gardner 402

acceptance in the scientific community to be admissible in a court of law. I

personally testified over the course of those two days and brought to the

court’s attention the aforementioned peer-reviewed articles and court rulings

in which the PAS had been recognized. I am certain that these documents

played an important role in the judge’s decision. Subsequently, the Florida

Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision. This case will clearly

serve as a precedent and should make it easier for the PAS to be admitted in

other cases—not only in Florida, but elsewhere.

Furthermore, on January 17, 2002, after a two-day hearing devoted to

whether the PAS satisfied Frye criteria for admissibility, a court in Wheaton,

Illinois, also ruled that the PAS has gained acceptance in the relevant scientific

community and is therefore admissible in courts of law.

It is important to note, also, that the list of legal citations not only includes

cases in the United States, but in Canada, Australia, Germany, and the

United Kingdom.

Unjustified Criticism: Dr. Gardner’s PAS Has Given Abusing

Parents a Weapon to Use Against Their Accusers. Specifically, They

Deny Their Abuse and Claim That the Children’s Animosity Is the

Result of the Accuser’s PAS Programming

 Fact: I do not deny that some bona fide abusers are doing this. I do not deny

that some bona fide abusers are claiming that the children’s animosity has

nothing to do with their reprehensible behavior, but is the result of the other

parent’s programming a PAS into them. Furthermore, there is no question

that such abusers gain support in this diversionary maneuver from their

attorneys. It is also the case that some judges, especially those who are not

properly knowledgeable about the PAS, have “bought into” this argument,

failing thereby to recognize the bona fide abuse that was actually taking

place in the case.

The implication of this criticism, however, is that I somehow am responsible

for such misrepresentation of the PAS by these abusers. PAS exists, as

does child abuse. There will always be those who will twist a contribution

for their own purposes. Chapter nine in the second edition of my book The

Parental Alienation Syndrome (Gardner, 1998) provides evaluators with detailed

criteria for differentiating between true abusers and PAS indoctrinators.

Criticism has been directed at me because some mental health professionals

and courts of law are misusing the PAS and exonerating bona fide

abusers by claiming that the children’s animosity toward them is the result of

PAS indoctrinations by the other parent. Again, I am somehow being blamed

for this. It is unfortunate that there are many evaluators who claim to be

knowledgeable about the PAS and clearly are not. Whenever something becomes

an in-vogue diagnosis, there will always be those who misinterpret it

and misuse it. Blaming the person who originally described this disorder is

the equivalent of blaming Henry Ford for automobile accidents or the Wright

Brothers for airplane fatalities. Nor do we prohibit the production of automobiles

and airplanes because of such misuse.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s PAS Work Has Been Misinterpreted

and Misapplied by Some Mental Health and Legal Professionals With

the Result that Some Parents Have Been Inappropriately Deprived of

Primary Custodial Status

Fact: I do not deny that some legal and mental health professionals are

indeed misinterpreting and misapplying my work, much to the detriment of

the client so affected. Again, the implication of this criticism is that somehow

I am responsible for such misinterpretation of my contributions. There will

always be those who will oversimplify a complex phenomenon and who

will misrepresent a contribution for their own purposes. There will always

be those who will not properly understand what they are reading and, thus,

misapply it. When writing, whether it be on the PAS or on any other subject,

I painstakingly attempt to be clear and try to correct in advance possible


Unjustified Criticism: The PAS Blames One Parent for the

Children’s Alienation and Exonerates the Other

Fact: This is true. The implication of that statement is that I am irrationally

and unjustifiably blaming the programming parent. As mentioned, when

bona fide neglect is present, then the children’s alienation is justified and the

PAS diagnosis is not warranted. When the PAS diagnosis is warranted, then

the programming parent should be blamed because that parent is abusing

the child. I am sure that the same criticizers would have no problem blaming

an abusive or neglectful parent for the primary source of the children’s alienation.

Those who promulgate this criticism are often women who claim that

the PAS is basically a manifestation of my bias against women. They claim

that PAS victim fathers most often bring about the children’s alienation by

their own reprehensible behavior. In short, they claim, “He brought it upon

himself and he deserves what he got.” Often they will use as justification the

claim that he doesn’t “respect the children’s boundaries,” “He harasses them

to visit with him,” and “He doesn’t respect their needs.” The father’s attempts

to see his children are converted into psychopathological manifestations that

justify their animosity.

My experience has been that when the PAS diagnosis is operative, the

target parent is usually an innocent victim. Even though he (she) may have

certain qualities that may have at times irritated or even temporarily alienated

the children, the target parent does not deserve the campaign of denigration,

the ongoing scorn, the complete rejection, and the decision never to

see him (her) again. The animosity, then, goes far above and beyond what

might be expected from these minor parental weaknesses (if present at all).

The one quality that I do see target parents to have that might be contributing

to the alienation is their passivity and fear of asserting themselves, lest

the children be even more angry at them. Elsewhere, I have elaborated on

this phenomenon in detail (Gardner, 2001).

Unjustified Criticism: The PAS Conforms to the Medical Model

 Fact: Those who criticize me for using the medical model claim that I ignore

the family systems model. First, there is hardly a page in any of my books on

the PAS that does not involve the family systems model. I am constantly

referring to the interactions and interrelationship between the alienating parent,

the alienated parent, and the PAS child. Accordingly, this aspect of the

criticism has absolutely no justification.

With regard to the criticism that PAS conforms to the medical model, the

implication here is that the medical model is somehow improper and that

PAS has nothing to do with the medical model. Each diagnosis in DSM-IV

follows the medical model. In order to make a diagnosis, a physician must

compare the patient’s symptoms with those listed in the book. The DSM-IV

committees have repeatedly rejected family systems diagnoses because they

are often nebulous and speculative. They are almost impossible to subject to

controlled studies, especially studies in which statistical verification is warranted.

I am certain that those who promulgate this criticism would want

their doctor to follow the medical model when diagnosing any illness they

may have.

Misinformation: Gardner Reflexively Applies the PAS Diagnosis to

All Alienated Children and Does Not Concern Himself With Other

Sources of the Children’s Alienation

Fact: This statement is ludicrous. To believe this, one must ignore all of my

books and articles published before I wrote my first article on the PAS in

1985. I describe in these publications many other reasons why children are

antagonistic toward one of the parents, reasons that have nothing to do with

PAS. These include the wide variety of forms of child abuse (physical, emotional,

and sexual), child neglect, child abandonment, and compromises in

parenting skill. In addition, I describe adolescent rebellion, adolescent alienation,

and cult indoctrinations. Even in my books on the PAS, I advise examiners

to be vigilant and explore alternative explanations for the children’s

alienation. Last, I have repeatedly stated that when bona fide abuse/neglect

exists, the PAS diagnosis is not applicable.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s PAS Work Has Resulted in People

Committing Suicide and Homicide

Fact: There is no question that I have been involved in a few cases in which

such tragedies have occurred. I do not differ, thereby, from the vast majority

of other psychiatrists who have been in full-time practice for over 40 years.

The implication here is that I somehow have been personally responsible for

these deaths. Unfortunately, considerations of confidentiality prevent me from

making any public statements regarding these particular cases. The old adage

is applicable here: “There are two sides to every story.” And my side,

without revealing any specific information about any specific case is this: I

have never been involved in a case in which I have been directly responsible

for anyone’s suicide or anyone’s homicide. And in every such case I

could, if I had the opportunity, provide compelling evidence that these terrible

consequences had absolutely nothing to do with me.

Misinformation: The PAS Is a Discredited Theory

 Fact: Those who promulgate this myth do not state who has discredited the

PAS and by what authority. The facts are just the opposite. An ever-increasing

number of legal and mental health professionals are writing articles on

the PAS and citing it in courts of law. The aforementioned lists of PAS peerreviewed

articles and legal citations are testament to the fact that PAS is not

a theory, nor has it been discredited.


Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Sex-Abuse Evaluations Do Not

Follow the Guidelines Delineated by the American Academy of Child

and Adolescent Psychiatry

Fact: Again, those who promulgate this myth do not state exactly which

aspects or elements in my protocol do not follow these guidelines. The facts

are that they do. In 1997 the American Academy of Child and Adolescent

Psychiatry published “Practice Parameters for the Forensic Evaluation of

Children and Adolescents Who May Have Been Physically or Sexually Abused.”

I was a consultant to the committee that prepared this document, and my

two books that describe my protocols are cited in this document: True and

False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse (Gardner, 1992) and Protocols for the

Sex-Abuse Evaluation (Gardner, 1995).

Furthermore, my protocols for differentiating between true and false

sex-abuse accusations utilize the same differentiating criteria that the vast

majority of examiners use when making this differentiation. They, like

myself, have derived these criteria from the scientific literature in which sexually

abused children as well as those who have abused them (male and

female pedophiles) have been studied and their characteristics delineated.

The primary difference between my protocol and that used by others is that

it is probably the most comprehensive; for example, I have 66 criteria for

differentiating between children who have been genuinely abused and those

who have not. At this point, no competent critic has ever claimed that any

single differentiating criterion has absolutely no validity for making this differentiation.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Sex-Abuse Protocol Has No

Scientific Validity

Fact: My books describe the protocols I utilize in sex-abuse evaluations and

provide scientific references to the vast majority of the criteria that I use for

differentiating between true and false sex-abuse accusations (Gardner, 1987,

1992b, 1995). Actually, the criteria that I use are derived from the same

literature that others use when differentiating between true and false accusations.

However, my list of differentiating criteria is generally longer and more

exhaustive than any of the lists I have seen.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Supports and Is Fully Sympathetic to

the Practice of Pedophilia

Fact: There is absolutely nothing that I have ever said in any of my lectures,

or anything that I have written in any of my publications to support this

allegation. This is my position on pedophilia: I consider pedophilia to be a

form of psychiatric disturbance. Furthermore, I consider those who perpetrate

such acts to be exploiting innocent victims with little, if any, sensitivity

to the potential effects of their behavior on their child victims. Many are

psychopathic, as evidenced by their inability to project themselves into the

position of the children they have seduced, and ignore the potential future

consequences on the child of their abominable behavior.

Accordingly, we all need protection from pedophiles. Jail is certainly a

reasonable place to provide us with such protection. This is especially the

case because the vast majority of pedophiles are not going to be cured, or

even helped significantly with their problems, by psychotherapy—the assertions

of some psychotherapists notwithstanding. By adulthood the pedophilic

orientation has been deeply embedded in the brain circuitry and is not

likely to be changed by such a superficial approach as “talk therapy.” Nor is

it likely to be changed to a significant degree by conditioning techniques,

that is, “behavior modification.” It is as reasonable to believe that one could

accomplish this goal as it is to believe that one could change an adult homosexual

into a heterosexual and vice versa.

I am also in favor of Megan’s Law, which requires that communities

learn about the presence in their midst of pedophiles who have just been

released from prison. I do believe, however, that the same laws should be

applied to those who have been convicted of certain other crimes such as

rape (which in a sense is similar to pedophilia), murder, arson, and other

felonies that present formidable risks to the community. In short, I have

absolutely no sympathy for pedophiles, and the fact that I have testified in

courts of law in defense of innocent parties—who have been wrongly accused

of pedophilia—does not mean that I am in any way sympathetic to

those who actually perpetrate such a heinous crime.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Believes That Pedophilia Is a Good

Thing for Society

Fact: I believe that pedophilia is a bad thing for society. I do believe, however,

that pedophilia, like all other forms of atypical sexuality, is part of the

human repertoire and that all humans are born with the potential to develop

any of the forms of atypical sexuality (which are referred to as paraphilias by

DSM-IV). My acknowledgment that a form of behavior is part of the human

potential is not an endorsement of that behavior. Rape, murder, sexual sadism,

and sexual harassment are all part of the human potential. This does

not mean I sanction these abominations.

I have noted the historical fact that pedophilia has been and still continues

to be a widespread phenomenon. Unfortunately, this has been interpreted

by some to indicate that I condone the practice. This is the equivalent

that saying that those who note the ubiquity of rape and murder are thereby

condoning these atrocities.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Believes That Pedophiles Should Be

Granted Primary Custody of Their Children

Fact: I consider pedophilia to be a psychiatric disorder, an abominable exploitation

of children. I have never supported a pedophile in his (or her)

quest for primary child custody. Because I have testified on behalf of falsely

accused defendants, there are some who claim that I am reflexively protective

of pedophiles and sympathetic to what they do. There is absolutely

nothing in anything I have ever said or written to support this absurd allegation.

When I conclude in a custody dispute that an accused father has pedophilic

tendencies, I will advise the court to provide protection for the children.

I never have recommended primary custody for such a parent, nor can

I imagine myself ever doing so.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Believes That the Vast Majority of

Incestuous Sex-Abuse Accusations are False

Fact: I believe that the vast majority of incestuous sex-abuse accusations are

true. There are other categories of sex-abuse accusations, for example, accusations

against babysitters, clergy, scout masters, teachers, strangers, and

accusations in the context of child-custody disputes. Each category has its

own likelihood of being true or false. It is in the category of child-custody

disputes that I believe that the vast majority of accusations are false, and

there is support for this belief in the scientific literature. This category represents

only one of many, and although false accusations in child-custody

disputes is common practice, this category represents only a small fraction of

all groups combined. When one combines all groups, I hold that the vast

majority of sex-abuse accusations are true.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Believes That Everybody Has

Pedophilic Tendencies

Fact: I believe that all people are born with the potential to engage in every

kind of atypical sexual behavior known to humanity. It behooves parents

and other caretakers to suppress socially unacceptable behavior and to channel

the child’s sexual urges into socially accepted forms. This should happen in

early childhood. In our society the pedophilic potential has been suppressed

successfully for the vast majority of individuals. Those who have not experienced

such suppression become pedophiles. There have been other societies

in the history of the world that have not suppressed pedophilic tendencies.

The fact that such suppression has not taken place is a fact of history.

This does not mean that I suggest that we emulate such societies or that I

approve of pedophilia. Human sacrifice has been widespread in many societies

in the history of the world. This also is a fact of history. To state this fact

does not mean that I approve of the practice. The suppression of primitive

impulses is necessary for the existence of a civilized society. Abba Eban, a

former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, put it well: “Man becomes

civilized when his animal impulses are tamed, subdued, and transcended by

his social nature.”

Misinformation: Gardner Believes that Judges, Lawyers, Juries, and

Evaluators Who Involve Themselves in Sex-Abuse Lawsuits Become

Sexually “Turned On” in the Course of the Litigation

Fact: As the media well knows, sex and violence attract attention. People are

more likely to read about these issues than less “interesting” topics. To deny

prurient interests is to deny reality. This does not mean that I believe that

people are sitting in the courtroom in a state of high sexual excitation while

the trial is going on. What I am saying is that those in the courtroom are as

Misinformation Versus Facts About Richard Gardner 409

likely to be extra-attentive to sex and violence as those outside the courtroom.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Is in Strong Support of the North

American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA)

Fact: I have never been a member of this organization, and I am opposed to

its primary principles. Adult men who have sex with boys are exploiting

them, corrupting them, and contributing to the development of sexual psychopathology

in them. NAMBLA’s position is that if the child consents, then

the pedophilic act is acceptable and even desirable. This is a rationalization

for depravity. Children can be seduced into consenting to anything, including

murder. Society needs to protect itself from those who would exploit our

children. Jail is one reasonable place to provide such protection.

Accurate Perception: Dr. Gardner Believes That Society, Especially

Our Penal System, Treats Adults Who Have Sex With Children too


Fact: This is true. However, the implication here is that I would never jail

pedophiles or punish them in any way. This is not true. I believe that most

pedophiles are incurable and that we must protect ourselves and our children

from them. Accordingly, jail is an excellent place to put them. I believe,

however, that pedophiles are treated differently, and much more harshly,

than other criminals. I have no hesitation referring to a pedophile as a criminal,

even though there is a DSM-IV diagnosis for pedophilic behavior. Most

states now have Megan’s Laws, laws that require local police to notify people

in the community that a recently jailed pedophile is living in their midst.

Notices are placed in police stations, post offices, and other places. There

are no Megan’s Laws for murderers. There are no Megan’s Laws for rapists.

There are no Megan’s Laws for arsonists or for any other crime. There are

only Megan’s Laws for sex abusers. This is what I am referring to when I say

that society treats sex abusers more harshly than people who have perpetrated

other crimes.

Furthermore, when people who have committed all the other crimes,

other than sex abuse, have served their sentences, the law requires that the

person must be released from jail by prison authorities. This is not the case

for child sex abusers. They can be kept in jail beyond their sentences and I

have seen cases in which this has happened. Usually they are required to go

into treatment until they are “cured.” If the alleged abuser insists that he

(she) never perpetrated any sex crimes at all, and has been falsely incarcerated,

then the person may remain in jail indefinitely. This is what I am

referring to when I say that society treats sex abusers much more harshly

than people who have committed other crimes.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Work Has Contributed to Sex-Abuse

Hysteria in This Country

Fact: This criticism credits me with the power to create a national hysteria

that did not exist before my publications. Describing a phenomenon does

not mean that I created it. My book Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials

Revisited was published in 1991 (Gardner, 1991a), at least six or seven years

after the hysteria began. (The reader may recall that the McMartin accusations

surfaced in 1983 and the Kelly Michaels accusations in 1988.) Obviously,

the sex-abuse hysteria phenomenon was well under way before the

publication of that book. In a sense, this criticism flatters me because it gives

me a power way beyond what I actually have.

Misinformation: Gardner Is Responsible for Judges All Over the

United States and Canada Disbelieving Mothers Claiming That Their

Children Were Sexually Abused by Their Husbands. As a Result

Children Are Not Being Protected From Their Pedophilic Fathers

Fact: Again, this implies that I, a single person, could have such an enormous

influence over the judiciary over a whole continent. The alternative explanation, namely, that my contributions have brought to light the abomination of false sex-abuse accusations is not acknowledged by those who promulgate this myth.

Unjustifiable Criticisms: Gardner Reflexively Considers a Sex-

Abuse Accusation False and Does Not Give Proper Attention to True

Sex-Abuse Accusations

Fact: This criticism is ludicrous and cannot be supported by any of my

publications on sex abuse. In each of my books on differentiating between

true and false sex-abuse accusations (the reader will please note the title), I

describe in detail the clinical manifestations when the accusation is true and

the clinical manifestations when the accusation is false (Gardner, 1987, 1992a,

1995). Although I have written that the vast majority of sex-abuse accusations

that arise as a spin-off of the PAS are false, I have also written that the

vast majority of sex-abuse accusations that arise in the context of the intact

families are more likely to be true. I have also written that the vast majority

of accusations in the context of babysitting accusations, coach accusations,

clergy accusations, and scout accusations are more likely to be true.

Misinformation Versus Facts About Richard Gardner 411


Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Custody Evaluations Do Not Follow

the Guidelines Delineated by the American Psychological


Fact: My child-custody evaluative procedures follow every one of these guidelines.

Those who promulgate this myth do not say specifically what in these guidelines is not subscribed to by my child-custody evaluative procedures. In fact, my publications describing my procedures have been cited in the 1994 American Psychological Association’s Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluation in Divorce Proceedings. The Guidelines cite my book, Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation (Gardner, 1989), the first edition of my book on the parental alienation syndrome (Gardner, 1992a), as well as my volume True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse (Gardner, 1992b). There is no other author on that list who has three citations.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Has Been Barred From Testimony in

Many Courts of Law Throughout the United States

Fact: This is pure myth. To date I have testified directly in approximately 30

states and in others via telephone. I have been testifying since 1960. Not

once has a court of law ruled that I was not qualified to testify as an expert.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Is a Hired Gun

Fact: When I agree to involve myself in a custody litigation there is a three step

process that each prospective client must take. First, every attempt must be made to involve me as the court’s independent examiner. If this fails Imay be willing, after some exploration of the case, to be recognized as the inviting party’s expert, but I make no promises beforehand that I will support that party’s position. I require the inviting party to sign a document in which he (she) agrees to pay my fees, and even for my testimony, if I ultimately decide that the opposing party warrants my support. There have been cases when in the course of my evaluation I have concluded that the opposing party’s position is the more compelling one, and I have ultimately testified on that party’s behalf. A copy of this document is to be found in the addendum of my book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition

(Gardner, 1998).

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Testifies Predominantly in Support of men

Fact: There is absolutely no basis for this myth. I have testified on behalf of

women who have been victimized by PAS-inducing husbands, and I have

testified on behalf of men whose wives are PAS inducers. In fact, in the last

few years, the number of PAS-inducing men against whom I have testified

has increased formidably, to the point where I see the ratio now to be about



Misinformation: Dr. Richard Gardner Is Biased Against Women

Fact: This cannot be reasonably substantiated by anything I have ever written,

lectured on, or testified to in a court of law. With regard to the alleged

gender bias associated with the parental alienation syndrome, the facts are

that I will generally recommend that PAS-inducing mothers in both the mild

and moderate categories retain primary custody. When PAS is severe, or

rapidly approaching the severe level, and the mother is the primary promulgator,

then I recommend a change of custody. But this represents only a

small percentage of cases. And these are exactly the recommendations I

make in my book Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation

Syndrome (Gardner, 2001).Furthermore, as fathers are now increasingly indoctrinating PAS in their children I find myself testifying even more frequently in support of women

who have been victimized by their husbands’ inducing PAS in their children.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Is an Advocate for Men’s Rights Groups

Fact: I have never been a member of any Men’s Rights Groups. In fact, I

have never been a member of any advocacy group whatsoever. Many men

in men’s rights groups are very pleased with me because I played an important

role in bringing to public attention the false sex-abuse accusation in the

context of child-custody disputes and have testified in support of innocent

men in this category. However, in the same groups are many men who are

critical of me because they claim I do not frequently enough recommend

custodial change for mothers who have induced mild and moderate levels of

PAS in their children. As mentioned, I generally reserve such a recommendation

for the relatively small percentage of mothers who have produced very

formidable levels of moderate PAS and/or severe levels of PAS.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Claims That He Is a Clinical Professor

of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and

Surgeons, Yet He Does Very Little Teaching There

Fact: The implication of this statement is that I am somehow misrepresenting

myself. I have been on the faculty of the Columbia Medical School since

1963. In earlier years I did more teaching than I have in recent years, but

such reduction in teaching obligations is common for senior medical school

faculty members. More importantly, people who do significant research and

writing generally do far less teaching. This has been my position.

When I was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1983, I was the

first person in the history of Columbia’s Child Psychiatry department to achieve

that rank who was primarily in private practice (rather than full-time faculty).

I had to satisfy all the same requirements necessary for the promotion of fulltime

academicians. And this was also true when I was promoted to the

associate professorial rank some years previously.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Publications Are Not Peer Reviewed

 Fact: I have published approximately 150 articles of which approximately 85

have been in peer-review journals.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Has His Own Publishing Company,

Creative Therapeutics, Inc., and Publishes All His Books Through

His Own Company

Fact: I do own Creative Therapeutics, Inc., and since 1978 I have published

most (but not all) of my books through Creative Therapeutics. The implication

is that Creative Therapeutics is some kind of vanity press and that if not

for it, I could not find publishers for my books. The facts are that between

1960 and 1983 I published books with the following other publishers: 4—

Bantam Books (Gardner, 1971b, 1979, 1981, 1983); 6—Jason Aronson, Inc.

(Gardner, 1970, 1971a, 1973a, 1973b, 1975, 1976); 1—Avon Books (Gardner,

1974a); 1—Doubleday (Gardner, 1977a); 2—Prentice-Hall (Gardner, 1972,

1974b; 1—G. P. Putnam’s (Gardner, 1978); and 1—George Stickley Co.,

(Gardner, 1977b). In 1991 Bantam published the second edition of my book

The Parents Book About Divorce (Gardner, 1991b). Moreover, I periodically

receive invitations from other publishers to write books. The main reason

why, in recent years, I have published through Creative Therapeutics is that

I have much more autonomy regarding book size and content, and the returns

are more favorable.

In addition, many of my books were published in foreign languages by

publishers in various countries: Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, French, German,

Italian, Hebrew, Czech, and Russian.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Has a Publicist

Fact: There was a period of approximately nine months (fall 1992 to summer

1993) when I did engage the services of a publicist. The purpose was to

bring public attention to one very important case in which I was involved.

That was the only time that I have used the services of a publicist.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Utilizes Coercive Interview

Techniques In Which He Bludgeons Children into Saying Whatever

He Wants Them to

Fact: I make every attempt to videotape my interviews of children alleging

sexual abuse. I have done hundreds of hours of such interviews. Not once

has anybody been able to demonstrate coercive interview techniques in the

course of these. In fact, my interviews are often viewed in another room—

via a monitor—by parents, lawyers, mental health professionals, and sometimes

the child’s own therapist. Not once has anybody ever come forth with

the complaint that my interviews were coercive, even under circumstances

in which the parties were able to interrupt my interview while it was in

progress. The interview tapes are available to both sides and yet not once

has an opposing attorney ever taken such a tape and even tried to demonstrate

to the court that my interview was coercive.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner Is Extremely Expensive and Only

Represents Rich People

Fact: My fees are higher than average, but commensurate with that of people

at my level of experience and expertise. I have also done a significant amount

of pro bono work. At any given point I usually have one or two pro bono

patients for whom I dedicate myself as assiduously as I would had they been

paying me. I do not differ here from many other physicians whose fees from

those who can pay enables them to provide services at low cost—or even at

no cost—to others.

Misinformation: Dr. Gardner’s Interest in Child-Custody Disputes

Probably Stems From the Fact That He Himself Was Involved in Such

a Dispute

Fact: I have never been involved in a child-custody dispute involving my



As mentioned, it was with great reluctance that I have written this article.

However, I recognize its importance and am pleased now that I have written  it.

I believe that earlier versions have played some role, perhaps small, in dispelling some of the misinformation that has been promulgated about meand my work.


American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (1997). Practice parameters

for the forensic evaluation of children and adolescents who may have been

physically or sexually abused. The Journal of the American Academy of Child &

Adolescent Psychiatry, 36, 423–442.

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV. Washington,

DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (1994). Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluation

in Divorce Proceedings. Washington, DC: Author.

Gardner, R. A. (1970). The Boys and Girls Book About Divorce (Hard Cover). New

York: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1971a). Therapeutic Communication With Children: The Mutual

Storytelling Technique. New York: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1971b). The Boys and Girls Book About Divorce (Paperback edition).

New York: Bantam Books, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1972). Dr. Gardner’s Stories About the Real World, Volume I. Englewood

Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1973a). MBD: The Family Book About Minimal Brain Dysfunction.

New York: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1973b). Understanding Children—A Parent’s Guide to Child Rearing.

New York: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1974a). Dr. Gardner’s Stories About the Real World (Paperback edition).

New York: Avon Books, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1974b). Dr. Gardner’s Fairy Tales for Today’s Children. Englewood

Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1975). Psychotherapeutic Approaches to the Resistant Child. New

York: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1976). Psychotherapy With Children of Divorce. New York: Jason

Aronson, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1977a). The Parents Book About Divorce. New York: Doubleday &

Company, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1977b). Dr. Gardner’s Modern Fairy Tales. Philadelphia: George

Stickley Co.

Gardner, R. A. (1978). The Boys and Girls Book About One-Parent Families. New

York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Gardner, R. A. (1979). The Parents Book About Divorce (Paperback edition). New

York: Bantam Books, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1981). The Boys and Girls Book About Stepfamilies (Paperback Edition).

New York: Bantam Books.

Gardner, R. A. (1983). The Boys and Girls Book About One-Parent Families (Paperback

Edition) . New York: Bantam Books.

Gardner, R. A. (1987). The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation

R. A. Gardner 416

Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics,


Gardner, R. A. (1989). Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration,

and Litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1991a). Sex-Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited. Cresskill,

NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1991b). The Parents Book About Divorce, Second Edition. New York:

Bantam Books.

Gardner, R. A. (1992a). The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health

and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1992b). True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ:

Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1995). Protocols for the Sex-Abuse Evaluation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative

Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition. Cresskill,

NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (2001). Therapeutic Interventions for Children With Parental Alienation

Syndrome. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

Gardner, R. A. (2002a). Parental alienation syndrome vs. parental alienation: Which

diagnosis should evaluators use in child-custody litigation? The American Journal

of Family Therapy, 30 (2), 101–123.

Gardner, R. A. (2002b), Articles in Peer-Review Journals and Published Books on the

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) (1985–2002.) http://www.rgardner.com/


Gardner, R. A. (2002c), Testimony Concerning the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Has Been Admitted in Courts of Law in Many States and Countries (1987–2002).


For additional references regarding Gardner please see the Gardner Library

Categories: Public Distortion